In the May 2014 Newsletter of the Presbytery of Sacramento our General Presbyter, Rev. Jay Wilkins has written a message about the debate going on in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on same sex marriage. He is very polite and straight forward about it and I appreciate that, but I am bothered that Wilkins refers to it as a 'fuss.' I think that perhaps he and others, particularly the progressives in the denomination do not understand the seriousness felt by many of the orthodox Christians on this matter.
It isn't just about marriage; instead it is about the authority of Scripture. It is also about Christology. And yes, it is also about morality. It is all tied together. When Jesus spoke about marriage, in the context of divorce, he went straight to the heart of the matter. He bypassed all of his religious peer’s arguments and went to the beginning of the story of God’s creation of marriage. Because God created a woman to be a companion to a man, the model is set with glorious consequences:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
Jesus uses this beautiful picture to explain why, except in the case of immorality, there is to be no divorce. To disobey the text is to disobey the Lord. But the door of mercy is wide. After Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9 names many of the sins of his day, including homosexuality, he lists what God in Jesus Christ has done for the sinner, which we all are:
“Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
But to deny the sinfulness of any of the sins listed in verses 9 through 10 is to deny the word of God. Yes, some of us are or have been fornicators (that means having sex outside of marriage), some of us are or have been swindlers, etc. The list goes on. But Jesus loved us while sinners and died for us. That is beautiful but we cannot deny the word of God, or the Lord of the word.
So to return to that word “fuss,” it hardly defines the battle orthodox Christians feel they are in for the sake of Christ and the church. And on top of the desire to stand faithfully for the word of Christ, is that other new realization of marginalization. Wilkins very clearly defines one of the big problems with this:
"We do have a problem since many Presbyterians live in states where a different understanding of the civil contract exists, and the Book of Order is not accurate in those states. Some make a fuss by saying we should redefine marriage in light of the changing culture and laws. Others fuss that we should maintain the definition and fight changes in laws. From my perspective the comfortable church-state relationship we have had regarding marriage is ending."
But, how strange it would be if the laws of the church universal always agreed with the laws of the state. How frightening it would be if the morality of the church always agreed with the morality of the culture. Christ would be shamed and his people would be without the power that comes of a humble and broken heart.
No! It is a battle, a fight, but one that must be fought with kindness, carefulness, faithfulness and courage. And that for the sake of the sinner.